Commercial BreakdownHeather Spohr
Annie, like a lot of kids, is a big fan of Dora, Yo Gabba Gabba, and all of the other fun children’s characters on Nickelodeon. What she hasn’t been, though, is a kid who watches the Nickelodeon channel live, as we either play her episodes recorded on our DVR or via Netflix. This has worked well for us, so being the genius that I am, I recently let her watch Nick Jr. live, and frankly, I didn’t like it.
For anyone who doesn’t know, Netflix is awesome for kids. There are tons of kid-friendly shows on there (including most of the Nick favorites), and they all air commercial free. For a while this was the only way Annie watched her shows, but then we decided to program our DVR to record them, too. These DVR’d episodes ended up being basically commercial free as well because I always fast forwarded through the commercials in the beginning, and then shut off the show the minute it ended.
A few weeks ago though I put on “live” Nick Jr. – I think Annie had seen all of the episodes on Netflix, and I was tired of turning on what was supposed to be a DVR’d episode of “Yo Gabba Gabba” but ended up being an episode of “Family Matters.” (Seriously, what is with all the programming changes on Nickelodeon?)
At first this worked out fine. Annie saw some cute new shows she hadn’t seen before, and I didn’t have to watch the same thing over and over. But then things took a turn when Annie started to pay attention to….the commercials.
Commercial breaks on Nick Jr. aren’t like normal commercial breaks on other channels that advertise a wide variety of products. Nickelodeon’s commercials almost exclusively advertise children’s toys. Barbies! Legos! Dream Lites! Even a fifty dollar Dora the Explorer doll that does gymnastics. Nothing but toys!
It wasn’t long before Annie was jumping up and down like a crazy person.
“Mama! I want dat! Want dat toy!”
“Ooh! And dis one, Mama! Look! I want dat toy! Maybe Santa bring it? I want it!”
I doubt even Freud himself could have come up with a better example of pure id than Annie at that moment. Needing to nip this in the bud, I distracted Annie with a well timed “Hey, look over there!,” then changed the channel.
Look, I get it. Nickelodeon is a business with the purpose of making money, so they need to sell commercials. And since their key demographic is children, they run commercials that appeal to children. Still, it makes me feel a little squeamish to see so many commercials – one after the other – manipulating little kids who aren’t yet old enough to resist or understand how commercialism works.
But like I said, I get it. It wouldn’t make sense for them to run an ad for Charles Schwab during Bubble Guppies. With that said, however, I think it’s going to be a while before I allow Annie to watch Nick Jr. again.